Highlights of Virtual Event: Unveiling Imposter Phenomena

By Mohona Dutta

People holding masks

On October 19, 2023, the Financial Women of San Francisco hosted a virtual event with a panel discussion on "Unveiling Imposter Phenomena.”

The event's moderator, Charity Hall, a skilled finance professional with diverse experience in financial services, accounting, and technology, led a panel of accomplished individuals in a discussion about the Imposter Phenomenon. The panelists included Dr. Mary J. Lomax-Ghirarduzzi, an academic and thought leader on race, inclusive leadership, and social justice; Angela Van, a seasoned expert in the Financial and Institutional Retirement industry; Marwa Ibrahim, a dynamic professional with a background in Human Resources and Product Management; and Tom Byrne, an insurance consultant and broker with a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Together, they discussed the challenges and solutions related to Imposter Phenomenon in their related fields.

The panel delved into the historical origins of imposter syndrome, tracing it back to pioneering studies in the 1970s conducted by Clance and Imes, which initially focused on high-achieving women. Over time, subsequent research revealed that imposter syndrome also affects men and individuals from diverse racial backgrounds. Dr. Lomax-Ghirarduzzi emphasized the importance of adopting an intersectional perspective to comprehend how imposter syndrome intersects with issues such as microaggressions, implicit bias, and a sense of not belonging.

The panelists candidly shared their personal experiences of grappling with imposter syndrome, despite achieving significant success in their respective fields. One notable insight was that imposter feelings can persist irrespective of one's accomplishments, and the act of categorizing individuals can intensify these feelings. It's important to note that while some critics may view imposter syndrome as an excuse, the overwhelming evidence suggests that it is indeed a genuine phenomenon, which disproportionately affects marginalized individuals.

During the panel discussion, experts delved into the phenomenon of imposter syndrome, covering its historical context and its impact on various groups. They shared valuable insights and strategies during their discussion on fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion, offering actionable steps and personal anecdotes to promote positive change.

  • Examine industry-specific leadership data to identify disparities in representation among various demographic groups, gaining insights into areas where gaps persist.
  • Engage in introspection regarding instances when you’ve made assumptions about individuals' capabilities based on factors like gender, race, or other characteristics.
  • Initiate an open and constructive dialogue with leaders to discuss existing disparities in representation within our team and propose actionable ideas for enhancing diversity and inclusion.
  • Draw upon personal experiences of feeling underestimated as a basis for empathetic interactions with others who may also grapple with imposter syndrome.
  • Combating Imposter syndrome involves scrutinizing evidence of inequities and engaging in open honest dialogues.

The panelists' insights, along with the actionable strategies underscored the importance of unveiling imposter phenomena to help foster a more inclusive and equitable professional landscape for all individuals.

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